Doctors are concerned about a potential long-term impact of distance learning in children – damaged eyesight due to hours of screen time.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many schools have changed the classroom for a virtual classroom. Therefor, children are spending their time looking at their screen for longer than usual.
“Sometimes I’ll look at the screen too much, my eyes start to hurt,” said Daniel Villarreal. “They start to hurt and I just feel weird.”
Carlos Villarreal, Daniel’s father, said he was already concern about his son’s screen time before distance learning.
“Definitely, we see that their screen time is up,” he said. “We were concerned before with screen time being on their phone or tablet, and now with this, it definitely has gone up.”
Optometrists say they’re seeing more fatigue, discomfort, blurry vision, and increased near-sightedness, especially among kids, since distance learning started.
Administrators such as Dr. Julio Villalobos, a principal in Alum Rock, is also worried.
“Depending on the student’s grade level, they’re spending anywhere between 180 and 240 minute online,” he said. That doesn’t include the time kids spend on screens to relax after their homework is done.
Experts say that long time logged in leads to long term changes in social and emotional development.
Doctors say that in order to avoid harming their eyesight, children need short visual breaks every 15 minutes, placing electronic devices at least an arm length away, increase font size to avoid squinting and balance natural light to avoid screen glare. In addition, parents and children should consider anti-glare coating on prescription or non-prescription glasses.